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B-32 Dominator: Very Long Range Bomber

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Dominator Developed to Attack Japan

B-32 Dominator, American WWII long range bomber

Single B-29 type tail which replaced the twin-tailed version in an attempt to make the aircraft more stable. USAF photo.

The B-32 was an American long range bomber which saw limited combat in the Pacific before the end of WWII.

It was manufactured by Consolidated which merged with Vultee to become Convair in 1943. The B-29 and B-32 were developed as very long range bombers for the purpose of attacking Japan. While the B-29 was retrofitted with reversible pitch propellers the B-32 was the first aircraft to come with them installed from the factory.

Testing & Production Problems with the B-32

This aircraft had a myriad of problems associated with it during testing and production, including the pressurization system, the remote controlled gun turrets, and stability.

My uncle, Howard Starnes, was was a flight instructor for the B-32 Dominator during WWII and related a story to my father, of one testing/training flights he made from Texas. Somewhere near the Great Lakes the nose of his B-32 fell off in mid-flight. Fortunately, he was strapped in and able to drop the aircraft low enough to avoid hypoxia, returning safely to base in Texas without the nose. It made me reflect on the dangers the test pilots and flight instructors faced without even going into combat.

Dominator's First Combat Mission

Eventually, three test planes flew the Dominator's first combat mission on May 29, 1945, in the Philippines. General George Kenney had asked for B-32s after being unable to acquire B-29s. “The Fifth got the Convair B-32 Dominator, which no one else seemed to want, to try out in combat. This very heavy 'super Liberator' had features which suited the Fifth's airfields—the Davis wing and reversible pitch propellers.... Only the 386th Squadron had converted before the end of the war and this B-32, Hobo Queen II, was in on their first and last battles,” Steve Birdsall in Flying Buccaneers, 1977 (p288).

B-32 Reconnaissance Missions After Japanese Surrender

After the surrender of Japan in August, B-32s mainly flew reconnaissance missions to monitor Japan's compliance with the cease fire. On August 17 and 18, (after the cease fire had been ordered), B-32 reconnaissance planes were attacked by Japanese fighters in what were reportedly the last air combat actions of World War II. All of the B-32s were scrapped after World War II.


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* B-32 Dominator facts

Category Bomber
Manufacturer Convair (Consolidated) Aircraft
Introduced January 1945
Used in WW II by
United States Army Air Force
Produced 1944-1945
Number built 118
Cruising speed 290 mph
Max. speed 360 mph
Altitude >35,000 feet service ceiling
Range 3,800 miles (max)
* Numbers are approximate